Sociology Index


'Me' is a concept of George Herbert Mead referring to the aspect of personal identity or self that is aware of and has internalized the expectations of others. The 'I' and the 'me' are terms central to the social philosophy of George Herbert Mead, one of the key influences on the development of the branch of sociology called symbolic interactionism. The ‘me’ is guided and shaped by the culture of an individual's society or group, which is internalized and acts to direct and control behavior. In social interaction, each individual's behavior is shaped by the interaction of their socially shaped ‘me’ and their more spontaneous and ego-focused ‘I’.

To be concrete, one remembers asking himself how he could undertake to do this, that, or the other, chiding himself for his shortcomings or pluming himself upon his achievements. Recognizing that the self can not appear in consciousness as an “I,” that it is always an object, i.e., a “me.”

“Me” is inconceivable without an “I.” And to this reply must be made that such an “I” is a presupposition, but never a presentation of conscious experience, for the moment it is presented it has passed into the objective case, presuming, if you like, an “I” that observes – but an “I” that can disclose himself only by ceasing to be the subject for whom the object “me” exists. - George Herbert Mead 1901, The Social Self - The Mead Project. Department of Sociology, Brock University.

It is, of course, not the Hegelism of a "self that becomes another to himself in which I am interested, but the nature of the self as revealed by introspection and subject to our factual analysis. This analysis does reveal, then, in a memory process an attitude of observing oneself in which both the observer and the observed appear.